The Storytellers The Storytellers Experience the Rocklands wilderness

Ramnas (Raphanus raphanistrum)

While ramnas is not indigenous to South Africa, it is certainly a naturalised wild plant that has historically been eaten by the local people. As a pioneer plant, it is more often found on land that has been disturbed by farming activity. Visually (and in taste), ramnas is often confused with Dijon Mustard (Brassica juncea) or thought to be a wild form of rocket lettuce. The leaves have similar deep lobes and hot, peppery taste, but tend to be quite rough (even hairy) underneath, becoming rather tough as they age. They work very well cut up small in a salad, or cooked as an ingredient in soup. Today, in commercial monocrop agriculture, wild radish is known as one of the most stubborn, widespread and damaging weeds. The cuticle thickness on the upper side of the leaf is credited with its extraordinary resistance to herbicide penetration. But there is a different way of seeing: ramnas is true pioneer plant, coming to heal where the soil or the water has been harmed, so abundantly that it could be a true famine food. We don't use ramnas in products, but certainly do in cooking!